Skip to main content

tv   Quadriga - The International Talk Show  LINKTV  September 25, 2016 2:30pm-4:01pm PDT

2:30 pm
♪ peter: hello, and a very warm welcome indeed to "quadriga," in the heart of berlin. it has been a turbulent week in germanan politics, during which the focus has been very much on angela merkel. she is often viewed as the most powerful woman in the world, but in a speech in the german capital, they usually highly -- the usually highly composed chancellor merkel revealed a surprising amount of emotion, including a rare expression of regret over aspects of her controversial refugee policy. it's all followed another election setback for her conservative cdu policy, the fifth in a row. it came in a regional paul poll -- poll for the berlin city parliament, when the conservatives have now less than a 20% share of the vote.
2:31 pm
our question on "quadriga," this week is, how would it is angela -- how wounded is angela merkel? to discuss that question, i am joined in the studio by three seasoned observers of german politics. beginning with derek scally of the "irish times," who says, "merkel is unchallenged for now, but she could be wounded if the spd, the left party, and the greens all joined forces in a bid to oust her." also with us is alan posener, a regular columnist with the berlin daily "die welt." alan says, "nobody is challenging merkel's leadership. nobody wants her job. so why should she worry?" and to get a french perspective on things, we are joined also by journalist and author pascale hugues, who comments, "welcome to the club. angela merkel is getting a rival on her right, just like all the other leaders in europe." thank you all for those interesting comments. i would like to begin with derek scally. let's talk about this election defeat for angela merkel right here in berlin just a few days ago.
2:32 pm
it is variously being described as humbling, humiliating, disastrous. merkel herself calls it bitter. how bitter? derek: i think as a general rule for anyone watching, there is a rule of thumb for state elections in germany. there are 16 federal states. if you win in one of the federal states, you go on television at 6:00 in the evening and say, this is a signal for the federal political level, the level at which merkel is playing, and if you lose, as merkel's team do, they say, this is obviously not a single for a wider political trend. the migration crisis is one of these things that works all levels of german politics. the federal level, local level, and i think that is why merkel was looking so chastened this week. this is a chastened chancellor. this is a woman who doesn't always ever really admit anything. this woman doesn't have feet of clay, she just sort of hovers over german politics. for her to come out like that was quite striking, but i think the closer you look, the more you picked apart what she actually said, she was saying that yes, this migration crisis
2:33 pm
got a little out of hand and we could have prepared, but it sounded a bit like a papal apology. if you feel something went wrong, then i'm sorry, but i'm actually -- i would continue to do what i did a year ago, and i'm going to continue doing it. what she actually said, whether or not you heard what you wanted to hear. she is slightly damaged, but she is still 50% or just under with political support, and she has been in power for 11 years. the question is whether journalists start to get tired of her face on the cover of "spiegel magazine" and keep hammmmering away at her, andnd whether that creates a mood among the public that somehow this woman is used up. and we could be at that moment, but she has bounced back before. peter: interesting, i noticed in one of your articles this week, you were talking about what you called the "merkel must go" mood in germany slowly accruing, being perceptible. is that how you see it, pascale? the "merkel must go" mood? pascale: i think you have to be very cautious.
2:34 pm
a right-wing had party that suddenly shuffled the political game.whether they are going to get into parliament whether they have to -- areical stuff they good enough position, but good enough to take responsibility? -- open. at the moment, i would see angela merkel as unchallenged. there's really no alternative on the left, no alternative within her party. the germans are not very daring. there's always a lot of excitement before, but when they go to a very imporortant electi, and the spirits come down, it is very possible that if she wants to be reelected, that she could save her skin and be
2:35 pm
elected again. i think we have to wait. peter: angela merkel chastened, angela merkel unchallenged. what would you say for that one? alan: has to look for an adjective now. the first thing is, berlin was not a surprise. the asd got basically what they predicted. angela merkel's party getting less than 20% of the vote. but theyt a minute, had weak leadership. they have had that for a long time. they did not get credit for what they did. this cdu did very well within the constraints. is, this is all about , the alternatives getting this new xenophobia, right wing populist party getting 14% of the party, but
2:36 pm
that was expected. they are going to get something like that in thehe general election in 2017. merkel knows it, her party knows it, but everyone knows it. peter: but there is a sense that lost hers nevertheless winning touch. five setbacks in a row. these are state elections. the point is on the state level, theleft-wing opponents, democrats and the left party, with the greens, can form government. on the federal level, that is impossible. democrats cannot and will not go with the greens. the only reason merkel's chancellor because the left party exists. as long as the left party is there in parliament, she will be chancellor, unless they're someone within her own party who says go. pascale: derek: but this
2:37 pm
is one of the bizarre things, merkel has been in power since 2005, and there has been centerleft about her. this week, this is one of these things, why can the left and merkel get it together? after this election, they were sort of smoke sizzles -- signals and flirtations with the left. for the first time when i was talking to people, there was a sign that it was worth talking about. we have not had that before. in 2013, the social democrats said, we are kind of screwed, so we might as well considering. now they are considering it even more. it may come to nothing, but for the first time, merkel has the majority again. complication is the greens. they have worked for the social democrats, but merkel might like them into the government.
2:38 pm
the greens party might be the key to this after less -- centerleft alliance that has never gotten back behind merkel until now. peter: you are nodding. thinking of just the image that merkel has. this is all human politics. policy.ant domestic policy. the economy is sliding, thee unemployment is very low. the whole spirit of the germans -- french compared to germany, it is so different. we are in a real crisis, and the crisis in france appears every 10 minutes. germany is doing very well, and i think the german people know that. not only due to merkel, but the reforms of others. we europeans, there's a lot of admiration and france, for example for angela merkel. peter: my sense has been that
2:39 pm
the mood of admiration that has been so palpable, has turned a little bit more towards exasperation with the chancellor. pascale: sometimes yes, but on the whole, no. you like europe to have a stable, low-key, calm germany. whats not perfect, but would we get if she wasn't there anymore? the sense i have i is trust and gratefulness for a leader like that in these very bumpy times. all these elements will play a role that fear as well, and actually play for her. peter: let's move on a little bit. i would like to go back to the address the much talked about that angela merkel gave in berlin,, during which she referred to what has been her mantra throughout the refugee crisis. it,words -- we can do referring to the refugee crisis, and the challenges it poses.
2:40 pm
let's listen to what she had to say. merkel: some say it is provocative. that was not my intent. i wanted to motivate people and be decisive and complementary. 7 merkel admits she has made mistakes. the past fewover years, we have not done things we could have. we have to do o a better job of integration. >> she expressed real emotion. >> if i could, i would turn the clock back many years, said that i could do a better job of working with the authorities to prepare for the situation. the events of late last summer caught us rather unprepared. and promised to do better. >> we must optimize our efforts in the situation, and that includes me. >> the chancellor needs to rebuild trust with the voters, but can she do it? derek, real emotion.
2:41 pm
derek: yes, this is what we are dealing with every day as german correspondence, what passes for real emotion in german politics, but it works for german voters. she is not that person in private. this is the merkel that she automaton that she sends out. it has won elections, but will it win a fourth time? that is the issue. i think nobody in her party will challenge her. i'm quite amused that the whole party, even her own party, say they are getting tired of her, but you asask when or why they are not challenging her, they have one year until the election. if you want to challenge, now is the time. nobody has come out. it speaks volumes that the fresh , hehope for german politics
2:42 pm
has done much for europe, but he's going to be 75 next year. i think the party is not going to challenge her at the moment, and the question is whether or not they believe voters will go behind her. they will talk more about that and a moment. felt then media, they emotion this week. they were saying it is real emotion, not a show of political theater. it is from the heart. alan: did they really? peter: that was my feeling. read whate you just you want to. i don't think anyone believes angela merkel has any real emotions. that's not her thing. she said i would like to turn back the clock, but who wouldn't? peter: we are being very unkind to her. we are think she is an
2:43 pm
automaton. alan: but what she said was, i would turn back the clock to last autumn, and to what she was responsible for. greece was the main destination for refugees. greece could not cope anymore. when greece was being trampled on by germany, they opened the floodgates. that's what happened. and it is her fault. no one is saying that in germany, but they should say it more. this is going to be held up p in her face all over europe. people in italy saying, we are sick of austerity. we need to do something. she is facing not so silent result in europe, and that result, however, will probably strengthen her hand at home, because the germans hate paying for the italians and the greeks and the spanish. is seen as the rock
2:44 pm
of financial austerity, and i think she has big chances in germany. one phrase in, the address angela merkel gave here in berlin caught my eye. it was this one, she said "we are living in a post-fact world where people are not necessarily interested in facts, they are just following their feelings." what is that about? alan: pascale: she is a scientist and she is following the facts. you are saying she is not emotional, but we don't know that. i think that is the arrogance of journalists. what it shows is she is not prophetic. i come from a country where this.cians are full of i find it soothing to live in a country where it is not so glamorous. it is true as well. when you look at the program of the ifd, why do people vote for
2:45 pm
that? do they really agree with the program, are they ideologically convinced? peter: we are talking about the far right populist party. pascale: the new populist party which germany never had, and now they have one like all the rest of us. peter: you said welcome to the club at the top of the show. [laughter] 14% here, 20% there. it is quite a big result. but do these people vote for the convinceduse they are that this program is the right way or is it just to protest, emotion? i thought that is what she wanted to say. derek: you could also call it truthiness. like what, doing the iraq war, they must have weapons of mass destruction.
2:46 pm
we s see with donald trump, he does that asas well, that must e true, don't come to me with facts. it shows that you can get 20% by pushing the emotionanal bututto, thatat merkel said is not worth going near, because germans are not emotional voters. but they get 20%, and they shatter the arithmetic. merkel is there and she has a party that needs a coalition party or perhahaps to -- two. that is the issue. i have been surprised that merkel basically sends out a version of herself, which is unemotional, that does not offer take those. that has -- does not offer pathos. that has worked for 11 years. but if you are the afd and push the button, that is new. peter: people are curious about angela merkel, they see the mask. they know she is hyperactive --
2:47 pm
rational, a pragmatist, and a trained scientist. she has done that for 11 years. i want you to speculate, what goes on behind the mask? she has been humiliated recently. she was human related by her allies, and the election, she has been left isolated. that hurts, i guess. alan: i don't think so. derek: i always imagine behind her face there is a political abacus, and the beads are going back-and-forth. she'sou ask questions, constantly calculating. i think the question for her, it was mentioned several times, until now she has sent herself out to be reelected. her party just comes along for the ride. she has been so strong, that it was called asymmetric demobilization. everyone elsewhere so disappointed, they were so convinced she was going to win, they just stayed at home. whether that will work a third time, the notion that merkel is
2:48 pm
intoorse pulling them back power, whether that will work again or come up with a new trick, t that will be interesti. maybe the new trick will be she will have to show it been more emotion, show a few more family photos. it was very hard for her to turn the car around at this stage, but maybe she will have to do something new like that to counter the emotion in post factual politics. peter: mr. pozen or has something he wants to get off his chest. alan: she has been there before. after she lost the election in 2005, it was in her grasp. there she was, flanked, making her speech, by the party grandes. chancellorhat then defeated her, abused her on tv, him in therty left coalition. she went on to get even with any one of the party grandes who flanked her. she will get even with all of
2:49 pm
them. she is not this cold, calculating, physicist. he is someone who gets even. but there are no grandes anymore. she has taken care of everyone. only one left is her, because she is the party. peter: i would like to cut in right there. we already heard, there is no alternative. but is that true? within the party, without the party, let's find out. let's listen to set -- the other names mentioned. csu, the leader has been making noises about running for chancellor, but if merkel agrees to his proposal on annual limits for refugees, he will probably stay where he is. wolfgang, the finance minister, he has gone -- dodone a good job with b budget and is respected. but voters think he is stuffy.
2:50 pm
besides, he's already 74 years old. the leader of the social democratic party and d deputyy chanancellor, pug nation and -- pug nation sent thick-skinned. he may have a chance. ministerense conspicuous, by her absence in the currenent political crisis, but she has always had her eye on the top spot, and that has alienated some of her party colleagues. which of these candidates has the best chance? it is amazing how cynical these folks are. [laughter] there was a quartet of names, are either of them going to be the next german chancellor? pascale: i don't think so. the first two of them, they are actually too old. in the mid-70's, that is really --
2:51 pm
those are the ones in the running. von der leyen,hen we don't hear anything. peter: she's very similar to angela merkel, people say. you were speculating, about who might read the next german chancellor. i can remember whether they had the same names. merkel thought she was irreplaceable, but then she was gone. nobody ever saw john major coming. i have been looking around german politics, trying to figure out. the interior minister, he has been responsible at the fefederl level. that might speak against him. on the positive side, he has elbowed her a little more than other politicians.
2:52 pm
that could be the man, just for a year or two to keep the party going. there is no real great white hope, so to speak. peter: that sounds a bit paltry. germany, like prosperous as it is, it doesn't have anybody who can step into the breach? alan: no. ursulat person we saw, is a great political talent, but she's already a victim of merkel. merkel gave her the job of defense minister. you don't go from defense minister to chancellor. you do that through a terrible scandal and then into oblivion. she's done for. i think the minister of the interior, the sort of stepped in, that might be. but the christian democrats need merkel to win precisely because they don't have anyone,.
2:53 pm
by the way, wolfgang is hated by all women in germany -- ursula is hated by all women in germany, because she is so great, she looks great, she has an incredibly rich husband, she is incredibly successful. pascale: that is such a male chauvinist statement. [laughter] alan: i like her. but i think the women do not. [laughter] no alternative to angela merkel at this point in time, maybe. maybe someone will come out of the ranks, we don't know. is there an alternative to europe?erkel in even when she goes, there will be a vacuum. we had an election in may. i think europe will be blocked. monday's initiative, 80 usually
2:54 pm
comes from france and germany. we have to wait to see. character in europe and very much respected, and also hateted for her liberal policie. peter: she is being shunned, especially by eastern europeans. they are giving her a very hard time. derek: lots of leaders in europe have always been opposed to angela merkel, but they could never get it together to form a posse and take her out, and humiliate her. people, like the group around poland and the czech republic, but we almost the in europe or you see in germany. lots of people want to take her down, but they can't get it together. think it is better the devil you know. peter: half a minute. alan: i think with breaking out, the point is that angela merkel is alone against the mediterranean states.
2:55 pm
against france, spain and italy, who all want the introduction the european union, rightly so. if the referendum is won in january of next year,, he is the man to watch in europe. peter: i begin to hear the music. that is the end of the show. how wounded is angela merkel? alan: she's ok. pascale: she's tough. peter: no problem there, no worries apparently. derek: she's got nine lives, i think she is on six or seven. peter: what we have learned is that this merkel era will continue, or should i say, drag on. thank you for joining us. us throughh with social media or the internet. until next week, goodbye. ♪
2:56 pm
2:57 pm
ccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc:
2:58 pm
2:59 pm
3:00 pm
announcer: this is a production of china central television america. may lee: it's the talk of hollywood, but it's not about the latest blockbuster. tinsel town is being accused of whitewashing. actors of color say they've had enough of being overlooked for major roles and, what's worse, characters that are originally created as minorities are being replaced by caucasian actors. this week on "full frame," how stereotypes-- both negative and positive--are a downfall to minorities. i'm may lee in los angeles. let's take it "full frame." [theme music playing]
3:01 pm
man: ♪ whoo hoo ooh, whoo hoo... ♪ may: hi, everyone, and welcome to "full frame." jason scott lee is a chinese-american actor who's perhaps best known for his breakout performance in the biopic "dragon: the bruce lee story," about the legendary chinese-american martial artist. man: it is your birth certicicate. jasoscott le " "bruclee.e." man: it sound d verymeririca bruc i i'm gogointo amemeca. frenchries. "sky's thlimimit. tha's at t thesay. man: "t t a chamanan's chchce." they say tha t too. brbre: i'm ffereren [shouts] man: yr r kindon''t undedetand englis y you gs kikill my dada in korea. yoththink'm ppy to seeouou in gymym? bruce: d''toucuch . man: owhwhat? bruce: oi'i' tououchou bacac [man shout may: a after his acclaimed portrayal of bruce lee, jason
3:02 pm
went on to star as mowgli in disney's 1994 live adaptation of "the jungle okok." hbecacamen inspatation oththersian acto w who rely saw latatabl faces in holwowood, t hehe eventual t took hiatatusrom hollywood foalalmostwo d deces becausththe ros fofor ian actors, esciciallysianan mes, were limited. now, tod l lee i back ihollywooand sa thgs are improving, but e fit for a gher prole is still oning foasian acto. joining now fm singaporto ta more abt this iss is jason ott lee. jason, welcome to "full frame." glad to have you. jason: hello. thank you, thank you. i'm very honored to be here. may: well, jason, let's start from the beginning. was acting something that you always wanted to do or did you just sort of happen to get into it? jason: um, it wasn't something i always wanted to do. it was, uh--it actually stemmed from sports, i think, because being, uh, an athlete in high school and then after high school, um,
3:03 pm
there was this appreciation of-- of audience, uh, uh, um, i guess applause and--and adoration. and--and i think that's kind of set the stage for, um, my interest in--in acting. may: oh, ok. jason: um, yeah, so it--it kind of started from that, and then, uh, as i got, uh, into los angeles by way of, um, academics and things, i started, uh, pulling more towards, um, the stage and--and, uh, tv and film, uh, acting. may: all right, right. well, this is where it's--this is where it all happens, here in hollywood. but you mentioned-- you grew up in hawaii, and then, as you said, you then came to los angeles. so hawaii being majority asian population, as we know, um, coming to l.a. and trying to make it in hollywood, was that sort of a cultural shock for you? jason: uh, yeah. um, i grew up in the islands in hawaii and, uh, we have a--a sort of a
3:04 pm
language of our own. we--we speak pidgin english. may: right. jason: so even--even landing myself in fullerton, california, in--in orange county... may: right. jason: uh, it was fairly what we called "white bread," so i had to sort of re-tune my, uh, linguistics and, uh, try and fit in. and i think that's kind of been the game ever since, is-- is trying to fit in. and, um, and i think the--you know, the-- the hard part was--i mean, i think the easy part for me is-- is that i was fairly naive at the time... may: mmm. lee: and, um, and i didn't have expectations, um, so that was sort of, uh, made the journey somewhat easier because the-- there was no requirement to--to excel or anything. it was just, you know, kind of a--a self-driven thing. may: right, right. but it must have been tough at that point, um, when you were starting because there were very few asians acting in hollywood, um,
3:05 pm
and those that were were just getting probably bit parts, uh, and not much exposure. so tell me what it was like for you when you would have to go out on auditions. what kind of res-- reactions would you get from casting directors? jason: um, in the early days, le--let's say the late--the late eighties and, um, the--the roles were very, very limited. i mean, there--there was a lot of, uh, projects that were coming up that were immigra-- immigrant, uh, roles. may: mmm. jason: um, uh, mostly one-liner bit roles or even one-word, uh, bit roles. may: right. jason: um, and, you know, like i said, i was a young actor. i was 19 years old and, um... uh, there wasn't a lot of expectations. and i think the-- the big turnaround for me came when i started, uh, doing leads, uh, or when i started getting, uh, bigger roles, say, in a--a
3:06 pm
cbs after-school special or something. may: mmm. mm-hmm. jason: and tho--those--then you really started to see, once you started getting into the--the larger supporting roles or, um, the leading roles, then you really started seeing how inhibited, uh, your opportunities were. may: right, right, and, uh, lots of stereotyping, which we're going to talk about in a second. but your big break, of course, was when you played bruce lee in the biopic. that... jason: correct. may: must have been incredibly intimidating and exciting at the same time for you. tell me what that was like. jason: uh, i--i grew up with bruce lee. bruce lee was an icon for me. uh, my father used to take me to his films. may: yeah. jason: and, um, i was completely blown away, even in my first meeting with, uh, universal. um, they--over the phone, they told me to come in for this project called "dragon." they did not tell me it was a--a biopic for bruce lee. may: oh, my. you had no idea? jason: so when i sat down... may: wow!
3:07 pm
jason: i had no idea. when i sat down with them, um, uh, they explained to me, and i--i immediately thought to myself, "i mu--he must--i must be kidding myself." mamay: ha ha! jaso " "the's way."." can-- i--i didn't t haveny m maral arts traing at theimime. ma wow. jason: uh, i dididn' uh--you know, it's-s--i aays s ma the com--t c compason n th it's like askg sosomee who ner danced befe e to ptrayay rudolf neyeyev.. may: ha ha! jason: uh, ia-a--a sry like tt.t. may: right. jason: s u um, yh, i i w-- and--and--it was h heavyeighght. it was a hvyvy, hey buburd on my shouldersececause wasas jt starting mcacareeruh, , i s 25 years oldndnd--an um,m, i thought, if i ma a fool myselfn this tha-and i've se, uh, a t of actortry to rtray m, and--d fail miseray, or nd of someat ke a mocry of it, d i felt like, d, i just-n my hrt, i st wand to do e man justice. iust want to make
3:08 pm
sothing th was incdibly dymic and-nd that--tt reallyold thatthat his charis, his ergy... may: yeah. jason: and his, uh, just zest for life. and i had problems with--with the training, um, when i was getting into it. i--i had--actually had an emotional, uh, breakdown through it... may: oh, really? jason: uh, just 'cause i--i wasn't, uh--i thought the train was moving too fast. may: huh. jason: and, um, so, in, you know, in hindsight, you know, it was kind of necessary because there are certain... issues that you need to plow through and, you know, uh, um, obstacles that you need to break through, and--and sometimes they don't happen unless you invest-- or that kind of emotion or make that kind of commitment. may: right. it's got to be a full-blown commitment to--a role like that, especially, because he's so iconic and so well known. that--that had to be a life-changing experience, uh, and also for your career, but let's get to the nitty gritty
3:09 pm
here about why we're talking today, and that's the stereotypes that exist in hollywood and to this day for asian actors, uh, who want to make it in hollywood. the bruce lee story, that was about an asian man, so therefore that was an easier role for an asian actor to play. so what are your thoughts on what's going on in hollywood to this day? we hear a lot of criticism still about whitewasashing, you u know, oscs so white--that was a big controversy, you know, earlier this year. jason: yeah. may: what--what do you think now? what--what do you think's happening? jason: ha ha! oh, boy. it-- it's--it's finally getting the recognition, you know, the issues are--are getting the recognition it-- it actually needs. may: yeah. jason: um, that's my point of view. i--uh, i--i've been up for a number of the more recent, uh, uh, roles that--that were, uh, significantly asian in origin, and, uh, was passed on. so...
3:10 pm
it's--i always thought, you know, back in the nineties that i thought it would go forward. it was always this promise that, uh, oh, you know, things are going to change, um, you know, uh, but it--it's gotten somewhat more confusing. may: mmm. how--how so? jason: and i look at it--well, back when we--in the eighties when we started, "feature films" were sort of this elite kind of place to be in, and that's why you had the oscars. may: right. jason: um, tv--tv and--and internet was not as prevalent, uh, and it kind of--it--it--it's showing--it's rearing its head now that you--tv has much more diversity. ma for sure. jason: and, , , and e internetif youook at youtube, has an in--the percentage of ethnic g groups tt are involved in front of the camerara is--is gege. may:y: right. jason:n: um, and sfefeature fils
3:11 pm
still carry that kind of, um, that power, you know, where it's still trying to create an elite, uh, program. may: right. jason: and, uh, along with that, you know, come egos and--and, uh, sort of, you know, it goes hand in hand, and so with that-- may: but--so ja--jason... jason: yeah? may: who do you bl--who do you blame, then, um, for this problem in hollywood, especially like you're saying, in the movie business? is it the executives? is it the producers? is it the decision makers? is it the audience? uh, is it the role of actors like you who need to push the envelope a little bit more? what do you think? jason: uh, i--i really contend that it's all of the above. may: ok. jason: um, yeah, because, um, i--i--i'm not a personality kind of think to blame anybody, i think. um, if we want to really show our stories, and if our culture is so much that--so much
3:12 pm
more different than mainstream western culture, then we should write our own stories, we should develop so that--that--we have ourselves to blame for that. may: mmm. jason: on the other hand of the spectrum, we do--or we are looking at executives and we are looking at studios that-- that have the inclination to make decisions to change things or--or enhance, you know, the situation for the better, but are not making those calls. may: right, right. jason: um, so you--you do have, you know, back-and-forth issues, um-- may: because it is--it is frustrating, jason. i mean, um, me, as an--also an asasian-american, when i see these--constantly these decisions being made about the roles, um, and who is being cast for these roles that are originally, uh, meant to be an asian character and then they cast someone who's caucasian. and that's still happening today over and over and over again, so i can't imagine what it's
3:13 pm
like to be in the business as an asian actor. i see it from the outside, and i get frustrated, so... jason: heheh heh heh! may: it must be--i don't know. i mean, do you feel like it's one step forward, two steps back? i mean, that's--that's sort of the feeling i get from folks here in hollywood, um, who are trying to make a difference, but--and yet they don't see enough change going on. jason: yeah, that--that's true. um, um, it is, uh, one step forward, two steps back. i mean, i--it--it's hard to--to really-- i think, you know, like you say, like now, ok? let's say, um, we have actors of asian-american descent who are speaking out. may: mm-hmm. jason: but if you notice, most of the people that are speaking out are actors that are doing pretty well for themselves. may: right. jason: um, they're working actors, they're--they're highly visible. um, what you don't see is a lot of actors who are not working or who are afraid to
3:14 pm
step up to the plate... may: yeah, right. jason: and--and be vocal because, you know, their--their jobs are pending. they got bills to pay. may: yep. jason: you know, they got kids to feed, and, um, a lot of people aren't willing to step forward. and i think, as a--as a collective, asian-americans, unless they're, like, you know, third-generation, um, they... they'rere not really vocal about a lot of issues to be argumentative about. may: mmm, mmm. jason: we tend to be, as a collective, a little more, um, do the work, keep your head down, stay humble, you know, kind of thing, um, so there-- there--there's--i think, over the years, it's been that way. there's been individuals who have--who have been outspoken, who've had the platform at some point or another. may: right. jason: um, and maybe it--it hasn't been a strong enough push, you know? it hasn't had a big wave of effect like how the african-americans have had, um, in--in their approach to entertainment industry. may: right, right. it just--
3:15 pm
jason: you know, they've sort of taken it by storm. may: it does seem--yeah, it does. sorry, jason, to interrupt, but it does seem like we are starting to just see this paradigm shift that's a bit stronger this time around, um, that asian-- jason: yeah, i--i think that-- may: yeah. jason: mm-hmm. may: yeah, go ahead. jason: i think the new generation, the newer generation are--are--are starting to actually become more western, become more vocal, you know. the, um, uh, you know, step into the--into the life for politics as well, and--and as well as, um, you know, racism, so-- may: right, right. well, you know, jason, you're right now in singapore, um, in asia, and so i think it's pretty interesting what we're seeing when it comes to media, um, and especially the power of asia--particularly the power ofof china--when i it como hollywood wanting to, you know, uh, seize the moment and get that market share in china. so do you think that's going to shift the way that the media
3:16 pm
behaves and the way that movies are cast because of the growing power of asia? jason: tsk. um, you know, that-- that's been happening for about 20 years now, and...it's the money grab that's there, um, whether there are asians in films or not. if they're going to, you know, make big bucks off of any kind of film featuring, uh, say, predominantly caucasian actors, then the--they're going to put money towards it. if-- unless--you know, it's like, in--in china, they want to see their own stars. they--they want to see, um, you know, their own, um, identity there, um, so even as an asian-american, we don't quite fit in... may: mmm. jason: because maybe our--our mandarin is not as--as fluent as--as what they demand. may: right. jason: um, so i--i--i haven't seen much change in that
3:17 pm
direction. the--hollywood is definitely collecting a lot of money for--for hollywood films. may: yep. jason: um, and they're doing very well in--in china, um, but you don't see a significant, uh, change, meaning the investors from china are not particular, uh, about who is in the movie. mamay: yeah. jason: and maybe--you know, we always had this thing, you know, throughout my career about being the token asian, you know. it's like you looatat some of t the g blockbuster,r, uh, superhero movies, and they'll put in a token asian... may: yep. jason: you know, and--and--but they won't--they will not give it--give that bigger role, or the leading role to, uh, an asian-american. may: right. jason: um, but they'll--they'll give you, like, little kibbles 'n' bits, yeah? may: jason, um, one last question. uh, what are you up to? what are your--some of the projects that, uh, you're workrking on and w what can we expepect from you?u? jason: um,m, i'm--i'm actualally getting behind the pen and i'm actually writing, so, um, i--
3:18 pm
i'm looking forward to, uh, doing stuff. uh, there's-- there's some things happening with youtube red. um, there's also some, uh, indie films that, uh, show a lot of redemption, a lot of heart in. may: great. jason: so the--yeah, i got stuff going on. it's fun, you know. may: good. well, i'm glad to hear. well, jason, it was such a pleasure talking to you today. thank you so much for your time. i i really appreciate it. jason: nice toto meet you. thank you alall. may: ok. takake care. jason: bye-bye. may: well, diversity is something that can't be ignored as the makeup of moviegoers becomes more and more diverse, so some directors are trying to expose audiences to the talents of minority actors. asian-american director jon m. chu is trying to do just that. he's recently been tapped to direct the movie adaptation of "crazy rich asians," a 2013 bestseller novel by kevin kwan. chu says he plans to shoot with an all-star asian cast. "full
3:19 pm
frame" correspondent sandra hughes recently caught up with the filmmaker to talk about his 2016 release of "now you see me 2" and his thoughts on the state of hollywood. announcer:r: ladies and gentlem, the 4 horsemen. woman: and the gl horsemanan. whoooo! yeah! sandra: "now you see me 2" is a caper filmlm with a dedetour to china... man: we jumped off a rooftop in new york... second man: where the hell are we? [third man shouts] man: and landed in china. sandra: which is very fitting for its director, jon chu, the youngest of 5 children born to chinese parents who taught him a work ethic that has taken him from the halls of the university of southern california film school to the highest levels of hollywood in less than a decade. jon: i think that, um, for me, when i'm making a movie, that's what i focus o on, is what am mi making, who am i servingng? not, uh, the fame that may come with it or the magazine articles that may come with it or the reviews that may come with it. i try not
3:20 pm
to let any of those things affect m me. th's not whwhy i do it. . um, i alwaysys knew from a kid, like, whether peoeople were going to pay me or not, i wawas always going to make movieies. i will continue e to for the ret of my life. sandra: it was his college short film t that first got him noticd by one of the biggest names in hollywood--steven spielberg. jon: it's called "when the kids are e ay," and i it was about a 17-minute e musical shshort film about the e secret life ofof mos and what they do when the kids are away for the day, and they sing and dance, , of course.e. sandra: ha ha ha! exactly what we don't do. jon: ha ha ha! sandra: that is so funny. jon: uh, it's a giant musical of all these mothers comoming together and, uh, , it's sort of a fairy tale in it. what we're trying to do, the texture that we're trying to bring to the project... sandra, vovoice-over: from ther, he's been working nonstop o on films and tv shows. his interest in hollywood diversity evolved along with his career. jon: and i started going to china--i'd never been to china before--and--and talking to companies there e to see if thee was--i don't know of a chinese
3:21 pm
movie, even chinese-language movie or an american movie that could have chinese elements into it, but never really finding the right fit and never quite, uh, until recently with "crazy rich asians," where it spoke to both sides of me. it spoke to me findnding my, um, identity balae side bececause that's what a lot of the story is about. it t als, um, spoke to my family's traditional side of their--what they think about asian america, this generation of asians, and what they think that we should be retaining from their journey. um, also, my grandparents' side, um, and also my friends' who look intnto our--our--our family and see it. so, uh, all of those elemenents were a part of this story th i i thought w was realy fascinating, um, and the facact that it's an all-asian cast. sandra: chu's latestst projects a movivie called "crazy richch asians," based on the book by kevin kwan. for chu, it's all coming at a time when diversity is one of the hottest topics in hollywood.
3:22 pm
this year's academy awards, held here at the dolby theatre, were boycotted by many african-american actors because of an absence of nominations. that led to a movement called oscars so white, but the academy awards host, african-american comedian chris rock, made a joke using asian children onstage. that made many asian-americans in the entertainment industry angry and asking why were they left out of the discussion on diversity. chris rock: the result of tonight's academy awards have been tabulated by the accounting fifirm of price, waterhouse & cooper. . they sent us their mot dedicateted, accurate, and hard-wororking representatives. i want you to please welcome ming zu, b bao ling, and dadavid moskowitz.z. jon: the fact that it's a--a deal now because of a joke, that shows that--that--ththat we haven't had a--a real discussion about it because ultimately, it is just a joke. but, like, we should be talking about deeper things than a joke at t an awars show. we should bebe talking abt the actual worork and what is
3:23 pm
actually going to be on the screen to make c changes. sandndra: so do o you feel comfortable in a meeting with, you know, studio bigwigs when you're talking about projects, saying, "hey, um, let's don't just look atat the same emma stoneses every timime we're l lg for a a female l lead"? jon: uh, no, i don't. i should be d doing it and i amam startio do it, butut it absolutely feels uncomfortablble. it absolulutely makes me feel weweird. um... i wish i could say it didn't, but i--just talking about race is awkward for me. i--i don't know, uh, how else to put it and, um, but i do now, and it's getting less awkward and it's getting g more like we're all in the cononversation. sandra: that conversation was the topic of discussion in steven j. kung's first feature film called "a leading man." man: cut! second man: i'm not a eunuch. i only play one on tv. third man: no job is worth your dignity and respect. sandra: the film follows the life of an asian-american actor
3:24 pm
who gets stereotyped on the road to stardom. kung: it just shows the hardship of b being an asian-american acr in hollywood 'cause it's-s--it's just...it's very painful to be in a profession where you can't find a job. sandra: kung now serves as the co-director of the asian-american committee at the directors guild, fosostering the careers of other asian directors, and he's working on the re-adaptioion ofhe m mov "dear whe e peop"..... man:ou want know whthey used to call me blk mimitch? second man: absolulyly. woman:obobody lleded y that.t. sandra: to a aetflix iginal sieies. kung: i inink amica'a's in search oa a greacaththars in tes of what's goinon in tes of race. and swhwhen people wat t the sies s in017, they'rere goi to o setelevivion that's very hont and reecects the rld we le in, anthat's part o owhat diverty incluon all about, yoknow--seei somethg on tv at refles e wor's--tha-that flects
3:25 pm
the multiculturaralism around y. sandra: for both steven j. kung and jon chu, growing up in america has given them opportunities, but when they were young, there were few role models onscreen or behind the camera. ultimately, what would you like to see c change in hollywood? jon: for a young asisian-americn to look on the screen and see themselves, um, that their possibilities of being superman are just as much as the kid at school who looks like superman. sandra: and with young asian talent on the move in hollywood, that idea is a script just waiting to be written. for "full frame," this is sandra hughes in hollywood. may: coming up next, one woman's unique attempt to correct hollywood's racial mistakes. stay with us. man: ♪ whoo hoo ooh, whoo hoo ooh, whoo hoo
3:26 pm
ooh, whoo hoo ♪ may: the 2016 academy awards reignited the diversity debate in hollywood, and the oscars so white campaign dominated sococil media, fueling outrage and action. the omission of minorities both in casting and award nominations was particularly personal to aspiring actor and blogger michelle villemaire. simultltaneously discocouraged d inspired, she decided to usese r blog to share a radical new project, "correcting yellowface." using photography, she illustrated hollywywood's prpractice of f whitewashing, casting caucasians in n minority roles. posing side-by-side nexet to non-asian actresses playiying roles clearly memeant for asasi, villemaire chronicled hollywood's long history of exclusion and stereotyping. michelle joins me now to tell us more about her fantastic project. i have to say, i thought this was so clever and so powerful in the way you
3:27 pm
used these images. michelle: thank you, may. may: so what--you know, before i ask you what inspired you, let's go back to when you were growing up as a kid. asian-american kid just like me, you know, i mean, in sort of a white community. did you realize when you were growing up that you had this asian identity and you were different and, if so, i mean, how did that shape you? michelle: absolutely. i mean, i am, um, half-asian. um, my father is caucasian, um, and my mother is thai-chinese, so i always had one foot in both-- both worlds. may: both cultures, yeah. michelle: um, but i look mainly asian. may: yeah. michelle: so there--there's my identity, um, and i went to school with mostly, uh, white kids, um, most of my life. may: yeah, so did--did you--did you feel like an outsider? i mean, did that affect the way in which you saw yourself, you know, in--in society? michelle: absolutely. i felt like an outsider, um, and i didn't--i wasn't seeing myself
3:28 pm
on--on--on television and in films. um-- may: that's the thing because-- i mean, we were saying, before we started this segment, both of us grew up not seeing asian images in the media at all. michelle: right, right. may: so what did you think--you noticed that, even as a kid? michelle: i did. uh, you know, i grew up watching black and white movies with my grandfather and, um, first decided that i wanted to be an actor when i saw shirley temple onscreen having fun and, you know, wearing costumes and tap shoes, and i wanted to be her. may: yeah. michelle: um, and, uh, and my-- my grandfather, um, was in love with marilyn monroe, so one of the first movies-- may: well, who wasn't? michelle: yeah. [both laugh] may: right. michelle: so i used to watch those movies with him, and one of the first, um, grown-up movies i remember watching was "gentlemen prefer blondes." may: oh. michelle: and even though i didn't understand the--the context of what was happening, um, the title alone-- may: the title alone, yeah. michelle: you know, there's so much multilevel messaging within that title. may: yep. michelle: you know, um--
3:29 pm
may: yeah, because i grew up wanting to have blue eyes... michelle: yeah. may: and blonde hair, and i wanted my name to be mary... michelle: mmm. may: you know, because, again, we were so subjected to those images and those images alone. michelle: i changed my name a few times, too. i remember putting clothespins on my nose to make my nose narrower... may: wow. michelle: because i was ashamed... may: yeah. michelle: of what i looked like. it didn't fit in and it didn't belong on--on camera... may: yeah. michelle: as far as i knew, as far as they were telling me. may: it wasn't the accepted image of beauty and what people desired, right? yeah. michelle: right, right. may: so that, uh, obviously, leads you to this phenomenal project, "correcting yellowface." um, why did you decide to do it? i mean, what-- what made you go and, you know, say to yourself, "all right, you know, i'm going to--i'm going to take this on"? michelle: well, there's been a lot of talk about whitewashingng in hollywood lately, um, and i-- let's see. i--i have a blog. i'm a creative person. may: yeah. michelle: i like to make things. um, i'm always looking f for new mediums, a and i'm not a great photographer, but i decided to,
3:30 pm
um, to use my y voice in this way ththis time. may: yeah, yeah. michelle: so i decided to, uh-- may: but obviously you were moved enough and maybe angry enough... michelle: yeah. may: to do this because, again, it is very powerful. we're going to take a look at some of the images, but you obviously were not just mad, you were like, "i'm going to do something about this and make a statement." michelle: yeah. a lot of people were talking about it as if it was the first time they were hearing about it, and i--i've been aware for a while. about 10 years ago, i--in adulthood, i discovered anna may wong, and--and her story really moved me. may: yep. michelle: i--i started to write a screenplay about her life and, uh, then i had a family, and-- and that took a back seat, but, um-- may: and again, most--a lot of folks in america don't even know who she is. michelle: ok, well, she was, as you know, the--the first chinese-american movie star. may: yep. michelle: and she had a shot at it, um, but because of the way the world was back then, she was not allowed to play opposite white men on--onscreen.
3:31 pm
may:y: right, as a romantic lea, right? yeah, that was sort of a moral code that was followed in hollywood. michelle: yes, yes. may: yeah, so that prevented her from getting a lot of parts that she would have been perfect for. michelle: yes. may: yeah. michelle: and they were casting white men as--as--asian men. may: exactly, exactly, so--ok, let's go to some of these photos because they are fantastic and we have to show them off. uh, let's look at luise rainer. hehere she is. michelelle: "the gooood earth." may:y: "the good e earth," righ? michelle: yes, there she is. may: pearl s. . buck's s book. michchelle: she's of germaman descenent, i believeve. may: gererman descent, playing a chinese e woman. michelle: yes. may: uh, and so look at you, toto the right.. michelelle: i, uh--- may: how was that? what was that like? michelle: um, i found a black t-shshirt, and i wrappeded it ad like a bandanna... may: yep. michelle: and i had a chinese traditional shirt. uh, a friend of mine helped me with the photoshop to make it look like i had been working in the fields. may: yes, you look tired. michelle: yes, yes, i didn't wear makeup, so i'm proud of myself for that. um-- may: but, yeah, there you go. i mean, a real asian playing
3:32 pm
that role,e, versus a a woman of german descent. michelle: yeah. may: yeah, but she did go on to, apparently--she won the academy award for that, didn't she? michelle: yes. may: yeah. all right, let's go to the next one. all right, the legendary katharine hepburn. shshe played an n asian woman.n. michellele: i discoverered thisn i was seararching for yeyellowfe pictures, anand i was shococked. may: amazingng. michelle: : shocked. may: i--i had no idea. michelle: this was also another book by pearl s. buck, um, "dragon seed," and she plays a chinese villager. may: it's, uh, incredible. michelle: mm-hmm. may: i mean, how--she doesn't look asian. i'm sorry. michelle: she doesn't look asian and they must have used some, um, some glue and tape to... may: to make her eyes... michelle: to give her-- may: smaller and--yeah, ok. michelle: and narrow. may: yeah, i definitely prefer your picture. all right, let's go to number 3--myrna loy. now, she was a favorite actress to be--to use in different asian roles, for some reason. michelle: yes, yeah. for some reason, , she just kepept gettig cast over anand over... may: rightht. michelelle: as an asian woman. may: here shshe is, yup. mimichelle: there she is, ththe daughthter of fu mananchu... may: ok. michelle: um... may: not convincing, ok.
3:33 pm
michelle: which is problematic in a lot of ways, but-- may: ha ha ha! sorry, i'm being really cynical about this, for obvious reasons. i--and then here she is again. michelle: and there she is again and, you know, i saw these pictures and i thought, um, uh, this really...i really wanted to have fun like she was having fun, and that's why i wanted to be an actress when i was a little girl. i wanted to wearar the costumemes... may: t to play dressss-up like . michelle: : and i wanteded toto play drs-s-up... may: sure. michelle: and i wanted to be in those roles. may: you l look fabulous, by the way, in this photo. michelle: thank you. may: really. michelle: thank you very much. may: uh, that's an amazing photo. michelle: i found that headdress in chinatown. may: you did? michelle: i did. ha ha! i showed the lady the picture, and i'm like, "i--you don't have anything like this, do you?" she's like, "yeah, right there." may: wow. ok. now we're going to look at--this was in "the king and i," right? michelle: "the king and i," yes. may: yeah. michelle: rita moreno, obviously latina, um, but because i'm--i'm part thai, i had to go r ththis one, ..... may: this f fab--is oututt of yours is faloloustoo. michel: : ye i rented that, uh, from thai ore... may:mazing. mielle: in ti town. may: ithai tow ok. mielle: ye. ha h may: allight, nowe're going to gto, uhemma sto. this
3:34 pm
was recent mie, "alo," where she'e's suppososedly 1/4 asian, r right? michel: : well, hahalf. half-a-asian... may: half-asasian? michelelle: 1/4 hawawaiian. may: andnd 1/4 hawaiiaian, righ. michellele: 1/4 hawaiiiian, 1/4, u uh, chinese.. may: ok. u um, reaeally? mimichelle: i know. may: i mean, really?y? michelle: i know.. may:y: there was such h a backlh ababout this bececause that wawe most ridiculouous casting, real. it was just so outlandish. michelle: the defense was that her character was not supposed to look asian. may: ok, she looks whiter than most white people. i mean, you know what i'm saying? michelle: i know, i know. may: yeah, but, uh, adorable outfit that you put together. michelle: oh, thank you. may: and let's just talk about-- one--one second about the fact that you really had to try and find all of these outfits, and that's where your diy, obviously, comes in to try to create some of these looks. michelle: right, yeah, i did. i created that hat, uh, from "aloha." may: right. michelle: um, that was fun. i mean, i just--i had a good time doing it. i mean, i--i can't be angry all the time... may: right. michelle: you know? i--i-- may: it had joy in it as well. michelle: yes. may: right? ok, now, uh, another recent, uh, casting, uh,
3:35 pm
miscscasting, uh, , is scarlettt jojohansson playaying a, um, a e of a character f from comimic books, rigight? michchelle: "the g ghost in the shell." may: and that is a sort of a-- iconic role to a lot of fans, and so peoplwewere reay upup in arms about isis. chelle: really uet out thth. ma yeah. mielelle: , the chchacter has a- j japane backound. ma yeah. michel: she's a janese woman. may:apanese,ully janese. michle: yes, y. may: y. chelle: here were aga, yeah, 20. may: tt's ere i wanto ask u, younow, i mn, when yo-when you started doing all this research and seeing that it started decades ago, but we're still seeing this happen today... michelle: mm-hmm. may: it's--it's pretty frustrating, isn't it? michelle: it's very frustrating. why is it still happening? may: why is it still happening? i don't know. michelle: oh. may: yeah, that's--that's where i think the asian community and--tell me what you think about it. i mean, this time it seems like they're vocalizing this a lot more, uh, the frustrations are coming out, and people are really starting to step up and talk about this,
3:36 pm
rather than just letting it go. do you see that kind of change happening? michelle: absolutely, yeah. i mean, i don't think we're our mothers' um, model minority anymore, you know? we're noisier. may: right. michelle: you know, we don't-- we're not worried about what other people think. we're not worried about impressing our ancestors. may: that's right, that's right. michelle: you know? or--or we are, and this is the way that we're doing it. we're speaking up. may: exactlyly, exactly. i mean, by you doing this, you are definitely shedding light on it and talking about the history of it and the fact that it's still happening. so what kind of response have you gotten? michelle: amazing response, may. may: yeah? michelle: amazing response. i-- i've been moveved to tears by te things that people have said. may: really? michelle: and i--i had no intention of it going viral the way that it did, but it's been printed in--in--in china, in thailand, in france and australia, india, all over, um, and people have emailed me, telling me thank you, um-- may: are people telling you their own stories about-- michelle: yes, they're telling their own stories and how they-- they look at the pictures, and they feel healed, in a way. may: wow. wewell, michelelle, tk
3:37 pm
you so much for coming in. michelle: thank you for having me. may: andnd i'm so proud of you, um, as a fellow asian-american, that you brought to light this topic in the way you did, in such a creative way. michelle: thank you. may: all right. good luck to you. michelle: thanks. may: all right, coming up, how one actor is using humor to change hollywood and society's stereotypes of middle eastern characters. we'll be right back. man: ♪ whoo hoo ooh, whoo hoo ooh, whoo hoo ooh, whoo hoo ♪ may: we're going to continue this theme of racial stereotypes. this time, let's take a look at another group that's often misrepresented in the media, the middle eastern community. negative stereotypes are intensifying as anti-muslim rhetoric is growing. well, iranian-american actor and comedian maz jobrani is doing his part to try and change that distorted image. he's appeared on hit tv shows like "grey's
3:38 pm
anatomy," "curb your enthusiasm," "true blood," and "the tonight show." jobranani's hilarious material is spot-on when it comes to stereotypes of muslims and very effective in promoting better understanding. maz: but no, guys, really, it is exciting to be here and, like i said, you guys are doing a lot, uh, culturally, uh, you know, and it's amazing. and it helps change the image of the middle east in the west. like, a lot of americans don't know a lot about us, about the middle east. i'm iranian and american. i'm there. i know the--the-- you know, i've traveled here. there's so much--we laugh, right? people don't know we laugh. when i did the "axis of evil comedy tour," it came out on comedy central. i went online to see what people were saying about it. i ended up on a conservative web site. one guy wrote another guy. he said, "i never knew these people laughed." [audience laughter] think about it. you never see us laughing in american film or television, right? maybe, like, an evil, like... [imitates maniacal laughter] [audience laughter] "i will kill you in the name of allah." [laughs maniacally] but never like... [giggles] [audience laughter]
3:39 pm
we like to laugh. we like to celebrate life. and i wish more americans would travel here. i always encourage my friends, travel, see the middle east, there's so much to see, so many good people. and it's vice versa and it helps, uh, uh, stop problems of--of misunderstanding and stereotypes of happening. may: so true. well, his 2015 memoir, "i'm not a terrorist, but i've played one on tv" details life growing up as an iranian-american and his struggles working in hollywood. jobrani says he and his fellow middle eastern-american entertainers are often typecast in the stereotypical roles of villains and terrorists. in his bold new comedy film, "jimmy vestvood: amerikan hero," he parodies these stereotypes and shows that people of middle eastern descent can also be leaders, heroes, and, most importantly, just normal human beings. here with me now is maz jobrani. maz, great to have you on the show. maz: thanks for having me, may. may: yes. maz: i appreciate being-- may: you're hilarious, i mean, in so many ways, but, i mean, it's--it's so nice to see when
3:40 pm
comedy can address really serious issues, right, of stereotypes and racism? maz: yeah, absolutely. i think comedy--you know, i--i've been a fan of comedy since i was a kid. may: yeah. maz: uh, i was a big fan of eddie murphy's when i was a kid. may: yup. maz: and i wanted to be like him. may, chuckling: yeah. maz: uh, but then once i started doing standup, uh, about 18 years ago, i started listening a lot more and--and watching a lot more richard pry-- richard pryor. may: yeah. maz: uh, george carlin, some of these guys who would get political. may: the old-school guys, yeah. maz: the old-school guys, but they got political and they-- and they had social commentary. and i think that comedy can really do a good job of that. that's why a show like "the daily show" is so great now because there's constant social and political commentary going on. may: and it's educational, right? i mean, bececse you're sending a message out in the form of laughter, but it does-- it definitely resonates that way, even better sometimes. maz: yeah, absolutely. you know, it's funny. i was on a panel one time with the comedian d.l. hughley, and i always quote him. he said that, uh, "comedy is like giving people their medicine, but in orange juice." may: oh, that's perfect. that's brilliant. maz: yeah, so they don't taste it.
3:41 pm
may: right. maz: you know what i'm saying? i mean, i think a lot of times, people are more open to listening to a message that comes through comedically, as opposed to just listening-- someone listening to a politician speak. may: totally agree. maz: right away, you're--you're biased against what they're going to say. may: exactly. maz: but when you're there, laughing at a comedy club or at a theater, you might not even realize that the guy's sending a message until later on in the car. you go, "oh, wait. he was trying to get a point across." may: and you actually remember it because it was so dang funny, right? maz: yeah, and i think one of the more important things, too, is, as a--as a comedian and an actor of middle eastern descent, for me, um, it's that--you know, comedians and actors from that part of the world, in america it's a relatively new thing. may: yeah. maz: when i first started 18 years ago, there weren't any other middle eastern comedians, a handful of us. may: right. maz: now there's a lot more, so the thing that's interesting has been--i think it's important for audiences to come to a show and sit with an audience from--with people from that background and laugh with them. i think that that--beyond just the comedian onstage, they can look around the room and see, "oh, wow.
3:42 pm
there's iranians laughing, there's arabs laughing, there's a muslim laughing, there's a lady in a hijab laughing next to me." it's--it's--i think it blows people's minds. may: well, before we get to talking about how you're trying to break these stereotypes, let's go back a little bit to your childhood. you--your family immigrated when you were 6 years old, right? maz: yeah, well, 6 years old, right around the time of the iranian revolution. may: right. maz: uh, we moved from iran to america. may: to tiburon. maz: tiburon, northern california, yeah. may: in the area, which is pretty white, isn't it? maz: it's very white. i'll tell you how white it is, because my dad being iranian, um, he was a self-made, uh, millionaire. he was a successful man, and i think iranians--some--there's a group of iranians who tend to be very ostentatious. may: yes. maz: i always say, like, now, living in los angeles, a lot of those iranians came to los angeles, and los angeles is ostentatious, iranians are ostentatious. it's like ostentation on steroids, right? may: ha ha! maz: uh, well, you can see on that tv show, "the shahs of sunset," right? may: yes. maz: it's--it's over the top. may: oh, yeah.
3:43 pm
maz: but it's interesting 'cause going to marin, where it was-- it's a--it's a rich county, it's a wealthy place, but a lot of the rich people in marin were a little more subtle with their wealth. may: right. maz: so they would drive volvos and saabs. may: ha ha! maz: and here comes my dad from iran, and he shows up and he buys a rolls-royce. may, laughing: oh, man! maz: and i was like, "what are you doing, man? it's, like, you know, ruining my childhood." may: wow. so was that tough for you, though, to--to--i mean, that must have been-- maz: it was very tough 'cause when you're a kid, you're trying to blend in. you don't want to stand out as a different kid, right? may: and then, when you're trying to blend in... maz: yeah. may: to a new culture, there's got to be that clash sometimes. maz: yeah, and i really liked to push that envelope. like, even in my standup sometimes, i like to kind of show the hypocrisy. like, when i did my book, uh, "i'm not a terrorist, but i play one on tv"... may: yeah. maz: and on the cover of the book, i intentionally put on a palestinian keffiyeh, the head gear, and i'm holding, like, a wile e. coyote bomb, and i've got an expression on my face like, "how did i end up here?" may: yeah. maz: and i'm trying to make fun of how hollywood mixes us up all together. i was trying to make fun of that. now, iranians are
3:44 pm
very sensitive to not being called arabs because they just want people to know that arabs and iranians are different. may: mm-hmm. maz: well, i put the cover of the book on my facebook page and i said, "hey, my book's coming out. please check it out." and some iranian lady sent me an email on facebook, you know, "why are you wearing arab headgear on the cover of your book? we are not arabs. we are persian." may: ha ha ha! maz: i had to write her back. i was like, "calm down, lady. i'm trying to make fun of hollywood, right?" may: right, right. maz: and it was just funny, this back-and-forth that i had with this lady, and i was trying to point out that, you know, i understand that--that the world needs to know that we're different, but i feel that your approach to it, this lady's approach, is somewhat racist. you're trying to say, "we're better"... may: right, right. maz: you know, "why are you mixing us up with these people, these savages?" and i was like, "you need to check yourself." let's really, like--we are all citizens of the world, and i just like to put that on people sometimes." may: yeah, yeah, through your comedy, which is--which is the way to go, honestly. well, let's talk about your experience in hollywood because, you know, obviously this show is about how the, you know, minorities are still having their issues
3:45 pm
and still running into those obstacles, right? for you, you've openly talked about that, that, you know, you guys are always cast as the villains, the terrorists, and all that. . so tell me about--do you see a change at all, or do you see it getting worse, better? maz: well, you know, i think, um, i think that overall, my thought--my thought process is this, that i think when an immigrant culture comes from another country to america, the first generation that comes, the parents that come, they set up shop and they want their kids to be doctors and lawyers and engineers. may: definitely. maz: that's it 'cause that's all they know. may: that's all they know, yeah. maz: and they go, "look, i--i fought in a civil war to get you over here"... may: right. maz: "you're going to-- you'rere not going to be a comedian," right? may: yeah, ha ha! maz: "i don't even know what that means." may: right. maz: right? may: your parents probably weren't psyched about that. maz: they were not at all, yeah, yeah, so--but what's interesting is, though, as we come to america and we assimilate, we realize that you can have a career in the arts, you can have a career in entertainment. and furthermore, we realize that you can have a voice, and i think i'm seeing more and more
3:46 pm
people from these backgrounds, whether it's iranians or arabs or muslims or even, like--like asian-americans, like, there's a lot of people that are getting in--behind the scenes. may: yeah. maz: and once we have people behind the scenes, then i think we can start telling our stories a little bit better. may:y: right, right. maz: um, i think--i don't-- i don't necessarily blame hollywood because i'm sitting there going--look, if i'm a guy who's never had an experience with--i don't know any middle easterners, i don't know muslims, i don't know arabs, i don't know iranians. i'm writing a--a movie, uh, that's taking place during the iraq war. well, i'm going to make all the iraqis bad guys 'cause they were the bad guys. may: yeah, yeah. maz: it just makes sense 'cause that's all i know. but if i were an iraqi and i were writing that same movie, i might sit there and go, "wait a minute. i know it's about the iraq war, but let me show you how this one guy got caught up in the war that was a good guy." may: yeah. maz: right? so i do feel that there is some promise, uh, but i think we have a long way to go still. may: yeah, i mean, that--you're saying that's one way of doing it, where you get more people behind the scenes to--to be more of the creators. but you
3:47 pm
actually took a bolder action on your part to say, "ok, you know what? i'm not going to play these roles anymore." maz: yeah, i--i--you know, what happened was--so early in my career, i did a couple of parts, like 2 or 3 parts, where i played a terrorist. may: mm-hmm. maz: and that was just because i thought that's what you got to do. i thought, well, you get an audition, you go on the audition. i didn't realize you could tell your agents and everybody else, "no, i don't want to do this." so--and--and also, i had a day job and i was trying to get out of the day job, so i thought the more of my jobs--the more of these jobs i get, the more--first of all, i'm making money to help me get out of the day job... may: right. maz: but secondly, it--it's leading somewhere for my career, um, and so i did those. i did the--i did a chuck norris movie of the week, where i played a terrorist and it was horrible. may: oh, yeah. old chuck norris. maz: yeah, chuck norris. then i played a terrorist in the tv show "24"... may: uh-huh. maz: and then i just--i--i realized i was like, "you know, i don't like doing these parts." and--and there's good and bad to all that, is that i said no, and then the other parts i've gotten have been all over the place, so i--you know, for example,e, in the movie "the interpreter," which was a sydney pollackck film with nicoe kidman, sean p penn, i played an arab-a-american secret servivice
3:48 pm
agent. i mean, how cool is that? may: yeah. maz: and my ethnicity wasn't even an issue in the movie. may: right, right. maz: um, and then i don't mind-- i tell people i don't mind playing cab drivers or falafel shop owners or any--'cause i think they're kind of--those people exist, and i've seen them and i've met them and-- may: yeah, they're real folks. maz: yeah, and so, you know, if some people think, like, "oh, you know, that's still stereotyping," but i go, "you know what? that's closer to where i want to be." really, i've just dr-drawn a line on the terrorist thing. may: yeah, yeah, which is undersrstandable. but what do yu think now--right now, there's so much anti-muslim rhetoric, right? and that's pervasive, and talk about stereotypes and, like, grouping everyone together. it's just, you know, negativity towards just that entire region. maz: it's one of the dumbest things i'veve seen in my lifefe. may: ha ha! maz: i really think people are stupid when they say stuff like that. it really--it, like--i mean, i see, whether it's donald trump talking about it, like, i mean, or--or his followers or anybody, when they--when you have an attack, let's say, like the san bernardino attacks, and they pledge allegiance to isis... may: mmm. maz: and then donald trump says
3:49 pm
we should shut the borders to any muslims coming in... may: right. maz: uh, till we figure out what's going on. and it's just-- i--i'm an immigrant. i came during the iranian revolution. that's when the hostage crisis happened. i would have been victimized, probably, under donald trump because he probably, like--let's just-- let's just say hypothetically donald trump were president back then. may: mm-hmm. maz: and he said, "we're going to shut the doors to any muslims coming to america, uh, because iranians have taken hostages." may: right. maz: well, number one, a lot of people leaving those countries-- people that left iran to come to america were trying to get away from that government. may: absolutely. maz: we didn't support that government. may: right. maz: we are a lot more pro-american or, let's say, pro-western, and we want our freedom. we came to america-- may: which is the case with a lot of immigrants. maz: that's what the immigrants are coming for. may: they're coming to the land of milk and honey... maz: yeah. may: where the opportunity and freedom-- maz: yeah, and listen, in all honesty, we have a big hand in a lot of the disasters that are going on in the middle east. like, if we hadn't attacked iraq to start with, a lot of the stuff might not have happened, that might not have played out the way it did. may: yeah.
3:50 pm
maz: and so, when you have refugees coming to america to-- for an opportunity, i would say a majority of those people are coming because they love the opportunity of america. they are getting away from wars. may: yeah. maz: those are people that-- that will be patriotic, that appreciate america. and for us to shut the door and go, "no, you guys can't come in," and not look at the specifics of what happened--the guy who carried out that act, or the orlando shooter, were born in america. may: yeah. maz: uh, or were american citizens. um, it--it just-- it's--it's mind-boggling to me. may: it is. um, what i found interesting is that you wrote an op-ed, i think it was a column, uh, where you talk about the italian-american experience in the media. so "sopranos," right? they were a bunch of gang--it was about the mafia... maz: yeah. may: right? but the reason why that works, that there was a balance was that there was also comedies like "everybody loves raymond," nice italian-american family. maz: yeah. may: so you had that nice balance of good and bad, whatever. maz: yeah. may: but with the middle eastern community, there's not that kind of representation. maz: well, i think there's a
3:51 pm
couple there. they--first of all, um, uh, you know, i know some people were upset about "the sopranos," some italians were upset about it, and like i said, you sit back and you go, well, at least you do have "everybody loves raymond" or you do have some other positive, uh, um, people in the media, whether it's actors like al pacino and robert de niro. sure, they play gangsters or what have you, but still, they're--they're worshiped in america. may: yeah. maz: so you have that going. um, i think that the problem with-- with the media and middle easterners and muslims and people from that part of the world is a high percentage of the time, when you see us, it's just the negative. we don't have a sitcom, we don't have a show-- i'm not sure if the networks are ready for it. i--i don't know how it would be done. um, there was a--a show called "little mosque on the prairie" that was out in canada for--for a little bit, did well in canada. they tried to bring it here, it didn't work. may: mmm. maz: um, i did a pilot a few years ago. uh, it was based on a book called "funny in farsi." uh, the author is firoozeh dumas, and she'd written a story about how her family immigrated
3:52 pm
to newport beach in the early seventies, and they were the only iranians in newport beach. may: oh, man. maz: it was actually a funny show, and we shot the pilot and--and it didn't get picked up. it was kind of like "fresh off the boat," but with iranians. may: right, right. maz: um, and so i think the networks are a little risk-averse when it comes to anything that might be too edgy in that way, and i think-- may: especially now, do you think? maz: i--i think so. may: i do think it's a worse situation now because of what we just talked about, because of all of this anti-muslim rhetoric. maz: listen, i think--listen, i mean, imagine if you had a family that were, like, a muslim family show or something, right? i think, if--if it were mid-season and they're working on it, there's probably no-- even things that you think are not controversial become controversial, like, for example, in my own standup, i do material about the lgbt community, and part of it is i'm trying to push that in front of--i know that there's, like, iranians and arabs at the show, and i try to--it--it's--my joke is based off of, um, uh, uh, um, uh, bruce jenner having-- becoming caitlyn jenner.
3:53 pm
may: ok. maz: and i talk about it in the material. i go--i actually support it. i go, "good for him. he knew he wanted to be a woman. that's amazing." i go, "i can't decide what to have for dinner; this guy knew he wanted to be a woman," right? may: ha ha ha! maz: so--but my point i try to make in that joke is i try to talk about how--i try to put it in--put the mirror in front of them and go, "don't judge," you know, just--you know. may: yeah. maz: but--but again, after the orlando shootings, that material became controversial because i knew that if i brought it up... may: right. maz: people would be on edge a little bit. may: right, right. maz: so if you take that now in the bigger image, bigger picture and you put it on a tv show, i'm sure the networks probably are a little wary of, like, "well, what happens if we have a muslim family and then something like this happened? now we got to do an episode where..." may: that's right. maz: "the kid's being bullied" and, you know, so i think they're a little wary of--of it, but-- may: and hollywood doesn't want to take too many risks, right? maz: they don't want to. may: because it's all about the bottom line. maz: bottom line. may: but, speaking of hollywood, you're--you made this movie. maz: absolutely. may: "jimmy vestvood"... maz: yeah. ha ha! may: "amerikan hero," which is, you know, kind of making fun of these stereotypes, right? maz: yeah, i made a movie, uh, "jimmy vestvood: amerikan hero." i describe it as the persian pink panther meets borat.
3:54 pm
may: i love it. ha ha! maz: yeah, it's a silly movie, you know. i--i--i, uh, co-wrote it with a guy named amir ohebsion. we co-wrote it, we co-produced it with the two of us and ray moheet, and then, um, and, uh, and i star in it. and our goal was--listen, growing up in iran, uh, like, the first 6 years of my life, but even after that, when i came to america, i was always a big fan of peter sellers' "pink panther." may: great. maz: just loved them, you know? bumbling--bumbling idiot. may: totally. maz: so we wanted to create a character of middle eastern descent that was a little bumbling... may: ok. maz: but saves the day. may: all right. well, we have a clip. maz: oh, good. may: so why don't we take a look ait? maz:ll right. man: m jamsh? jimmy: just llll me mmy.y. man:hat'your occation? jimmy: we are t t hereo ococcu u. we on come ineace. [peoe singing in forgngn langge] man: i tnk we've got our guy jimmy: jmymy vesood,d, le, uh,h, clint eastodod butestvtvoo [womanauaughs] man:ouou knohow w so peoplpl rn out to be as mbmb as they lo?? jimmy: ow! i'm ining toet c crufied
3:55 pm
for th. y: ha ha! , my godthat looks larious,onestl maz: tnk you. y: butere'what i didot kn. you d to crowdund... maz:e crowd-eah. may: tget so of the financing for this, right? maz: listen, my, uh, respect for filmmakers has gone up so high. may: has it? it ain't easy, is it? maz: it ain't easy 'cause, as a standup comedian, all i do--you show up, there's a microphone, you tell your jokes... may: right. maz: right? uh, you just--you hope to, like--you know, you do it a lot, you grow, you grow a fan base, but you just hope people show up and you tell your jokes. may: yeah. maz: moviemaking is a whole other level. you write the script, you think you're done. you're like, "no, now you need the money." so then, to get the money, we went in--we started with some crowd-funding and, um, and, uh, when i first put it on, uh, uh, on indiegogo, it was indiegogo... may: yeah. maz: uh, i had about, like, a hundred and--i don't know-- 120,000 facebook fans, so i was like, "well, if everyone puts a buck, we got $120,000." may: right. maz: well, we put it out, and nobody was giving any money. may, laughing: oh, no. maz: i think everyone was used to getting free stuff now. may: oh, no. that must have been kind of crushing. maz: it was crushing. then we look at the analytics, and i-- and i realized, like, 40,000 of
3:56 pm
my fans were--were egyptian, another 30,000 in jordan, and i was like, "wait a minute. these--these people aren't even real." like, i think, i--i wrote--i was working with a company who was, like, helping me increase my fan base. may: oh. maz: but i think that they just got some guys in egypt to just go like this. may: yes! oh! maz: you know whwhat i'm saying? and it's funny 'cause-- may: so you actually had 5 fans. maz: i had 5 fans, so i made $5.00 and, uh--no, we--we basically ended up then, uh, uh, we did a couple of fundraisers within the crowd-funding. we made, like, we made a little bit of money there... may: ok. maz: and that got our--that got our--our seed money. may: ok. maz: then we got some investors to put money in, and then we made the movie and then i thought, "well, that's it. now we've made the movie. someone's going to distribute it." then we got into a comedy festival, won a couple of comedy awards... may: oh, fantastic. maz: but then we couldn't get a big distributor to help us. may: oh. maz: and it's funny--well, here's what's interesting. i thought the biggest, uh, um, obstacle was going to be having a movie with a middle eastern lead--an american movie with a middle eastern hero. i thought that was the biggest obstacle. the biggest obstacle is just being an independent movie
3:57 pm
in this environment. may: oh. maz: because you're competing against "captain america." may: right. maz: and then the next week, you're competing against, uh, "x-men." may: yes. maz: then the next week, it's "teenage mutant ninja turtles." and as i'm going through this, i'm like, "how many superheroes do we e have?" may: ha ha ha! maz: and i was like--and what does that say about us as a society? like, how insecure are we that we need superheroes? may: we do. they need to come save the day. maz: they got to save the day. i think that our lives are so miserable that we feel like every week, there's got to be a hero that i got to go see-- may: well, maz, you might be the next hero, then. who knows, rigight? maz: i'm just--i just want normal man. may: yeah, well, you know, you could be the next american hero... maz: i should be, yeah. may: judging from this--this movie, but congratulations on getting it done. maz: thank you. yeah, i know. it's huge. may: and good luck with that, but it was so great having you on the show. maz: thank you, may, yeah. may: thanks so much. that was really fun. maz: thank you. may: all right. well, that's it for this week. join the conversation with us on social media. we are cctvamerica on twitter, facebook, and youtube, anand you can also watch "full frame" on our mobile app, available worldwide on any smartphone for free. search cctv america in your app store to download it today. and get
3:58 pm
the latest news headlines and connect to us on facebook, twitter, youtube, and weibo. all of our interviews can also still be found online at cctv-america.com. and of course, let us know what you'd like us to take "full frame" next. simply email us at fullframe@cctv-america.com. until then, i'm may lee in los angeles. we'll see you next time. man: ♪ whoo hoo ooh, whoo hoo ooh, whoo hoo ooh,h, whoo hoo ♪ cccccccccccccc'
3:59 pm
4:00 pm
>> hello. i'm john cleese, and i do hope you will join me for an exciting new television series; a unique e inquiry intoo human consciousness ititself. now you'rababout to seeee an extraordinary program, a studio conversation that you may never forget. so settle back, take a deep breath as we join our trusted guide and host phil cousineau on a most memorable episode of "global spirit," the first internal travel series.

4 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on